LED lighting manufacturer, Once Innovations (ONCE), is filing a Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Complaint under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in connection with a poultry lighting rebate program involving $1.2 million of Federal Stimulus Funds.
ONCE claims the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Energy Office is managing the program using recovery funds in an arbitrary and capricious manner and steering rebate-eligible lamps toward specific, pre-selected manufacturers and lamp designs.
ONCE supports offering rebates in order to accelerate adoption of energy efficient LED lighting for poultry production, but has expressed concern over inappropriate and incomplete specifications for lamps qualifying for these rebates.
Michael J. Ostaffe, ONCE Executive Vice President, stated, “In addition to not requiring minimum power quality standards, the AEDC specifications were technically incompetent. They refused to add safety standards, even though urged to do so several times, an omission that could lead to the potential risk of fire, shock, or other electrical hazards detrimental to birds, farmers, and property. The specifications don’t require, or even reference, basic ANSI, NEMA, or UL standards, as is the norm for commercial lighting projects. Not only that, this is an energy saving program, yet lights that are significantly less energy efficient than CFLs or incandescent bulbs could actually qualify for a 50% rebate based on the minimum requirements published by the AEDC.”
This is not the first time there have been issues with the program. In January of this year, ONCE challenged the AEDC on its administration and award of the grant on procedural grounds, and argued that any award of federal funds in conjunction with that program would be improper under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The company felt, similarly to the current program, that the Invitation for Bid steered the award toward specific, pre-selected manufacturers and lamp designs rarely used in poultry production.